From Make Ahead Meals Copyright © Chef Michael Smith 2015. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Photography credit: Ryan Szulc.
Pesto is an intensely flavored condiment traditionally made from fresh green herbs, nuts, cheese and olive oil. It’s an incredibly easy way to add a big, bright boost of fresh flavor to nearly any dish. This version is less expensive than the classic Genovese blend of basil, pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano, but with spicy arugula, peperoncini and almonds it’s just as flavorful. You can just as easily incorporate traditional fresh basil into the works if you like. Either way, you’ll discover that a little goes a long way.
Yield: Makes 2 cups (500 mL), enough for many meals, easily doubled.
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 pickled peperoncini peppers, stems removed (or 1/2 teaspoon/2 mL of your favorite hot sauce)
1 cup (250 mL) of blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 cup (125 mL) or so of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
A 5-ounce (142 g) container of baby arugula
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
Pile the garlic, peperoncini, almonds and half of the olive oil into your food processor. Pulse until everything is coarsely chopped and well mixed. Add the remaining oil and the Parmesan, arugula, salt and pepper. Process, scraping down the sides occasionally, until thoroughly blended into a smooth paste.
Refrigerate: Tightly seal the pesto and refrigerate for up to a week.
Freeze: Portion the pesto, tightly seal and freeze for up to 30 days. Use straight from the freezer or thaw in the refrigerator for a day or so before use.
From Make Ahead Meals Copyright © Michael Smith 2015. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited
A traditional pesto genovese is made with loads of fresh basil, but by no means do you have to stick by tradition. This version has been jazzed up with pungent sun-dried tomatoes. Pesto means paste, and it can have infinite variations based on what inspires you. Switch up the nuts or cheese, add some herbs or spices, or zip it up with some hot sauce.
There's no need to slave over the stove or make a run to the supermarket the next time you're inspired to fire up the grill. Spicy, savoury BBQ sauce is only minutes away by simply stirring together a few pantry staples. Slather it on slow-roasted ribs, spoon it over pulled pork, or simply serve with your steak.